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Rabbi Circumcises Baby Without Mother’s Consent

October 18, 1993

JERUSALEM (AP) _ It was an uncalled-for cut with the circumcision knife.

But Israel’s Ministry of Religions dismissed kidnapping charges Sunday against a rabbi who circumcised a baby boy in the southern city of Beersheba last month without the mother’s consent.

Yitzhak Nagar, a ministry official, went knocking on doors in a neighborhood of immigrants, looking for newborn boys who had not been circumcised in fulfillment of Jewish law, said the ruling, published by the Itim news agency.

Irna Pundersky, a recent immigrant from Russia, did not speak much Hebrew, but she held up her baby for examination, the ruling said. Sure enough, the boy was not circumcised.

Nagar returned with Rabbi Shlomo Maman. The men asked Mrs. Pundersky to leave the room - they said they did not want to upset her - and Maman circumcised the boy.

Later that day, she filed a kidnapping complaint with police.

Maman said he thought he had permission to circumcise the boy, and police did not press charges. But the Religions Ministry set up a commission of inquiry.

On Sunday, the panel determined the baby was circumcised in good faith.

But the commission chairman, ministry director Zeev Rosenberg, chided Nagar and Maman for not doing their homework.

The infant lacked one crucial precondition for a proper religious circumcision: He was not Jewish.

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